The Pap Test has changed – what you need to know

Australia has one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world, largely as a result of the success of the National Cervical Screening Program over the last 25 years. From 1 December 2017 this program is changing, based on the latest available evidence on the development and prevention of cervical cancer.

A new Cervical Screening Test, which aims to detect the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is replacing the Pap test (or Pap smear) for women aged 25–74.  Usually the test will still require a vaginal speculum examination and cervical sample, but if negative, then depending on past history the screening will need to be repeated in five years.

Women who are already having regular Pap tests will start having the new Cervical Screening Test when they are next due, which is usually two years after their most recent Pap test if this was negative.

Women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to have regular cervical screening, as the vaccine does not protect again all types of HPV.

The new Cervical Screening Test only begins at the age of 25 depending on past history and results, so your doctor is best placed to offer you advice in this regard.

Due to the above Cervical Screening Test Program changes, the name of the  Pap Clinic that has been operating as a bulk-billing service to Queen St Medical Centre patients for the past five years will also change.

Our new “Women’s Health Clinic” will include the new Cervical Screening Test, as well as other examination, advice and referral as indicated.  This service with Dr Judy Toman and our women’s health trained nurses Annie and Shelley, will continue to be bulk-billed and scheduled at different days and times to facilitate attendance.

Patients can of course continue to have their cervical screening with their usual GP at QSMC, or at Community Health with the women’s health nurse.

For more information about this new Cervical Screening Test Program please ask your doctor or one of our practice nurses. You may also see our receptionists who can refer you to someone on our team who is qualified to answer your questions.